Las Vegas, NV
You really learn a lot about people when they are tossed into stressful situations. Anyone can be cool, calm, and awesome during the easy going fun times, but it's when the shit hits the fan that you glimpse into the real humanity.
9.11 was an interesting moment for me and my friends. I really understood how people think in such troubling times. Some folks stood up and rose to the challenges in front of them while others became muttering muppets and fell in line with the other sheeple.
Every summer, I spend 7-8 weeks in Las Vegas covering the WSOP. This year I skipped three weeks to go on Phish tour instead. Why? Because I can and I don't have to 100% rely on the WSOP for income. The majority of poker people secure anywhere from 25-75% of their income in the summer. It's not an easy job despite what everyone thinks. I've turned down more potential job offers to write for people during the WSOP in the last three years. The offers would make your head spin. I've turned down more money than some of you might make in a year mainly because of the insane and thankless work involved. Not to mention all the haters and content thieves who come out of the woodwork.
My friends always get me through the tough times. Luckily, I have an amazing support group at the WSOP in addition to those outside the WSOP (like my brother and the Joker and others).
Sadly, I lose a ton of respect for work colleagues every summer by their actions. At some point, the pressure gets to them and they snap. Sometimes it happens once a week. Sadly for others, it happens once a day. I'm prone to a few breakdowns every summer. Usually, you want that to happen early into the 7-week assignment so you can quickly recover. For example, Nicky had her meltdown on the morning that I was about to see Phish at Great Woods. She quickly recovered thanks to some friends (Poker Shrink and Schecky) who looked in on her.
Unfortunately, others snap and we lose them for the entire WSOP. It's at those moments when they become dangerous. I make little mental notes. These are people that I don't want to work with in the future (or if given the chance sometime down the line... I won't want to hire these people on new projects) because when it comes down to it, the wilt and buckle under the immense pressure of the WSOP.
At the same time, a handful of warriors rise up from the battle field and establish themselves as the elite of poker media. Those are the people I gravitate towards. Those are the folks that I decide to do business deals with down the line and often try my hardest to collaborate with them sometime in the future. Some of those folks I hired this summer to write for Tao of Poker. I called them All Stars because that's how I view their work ethic and the quality of their work.
I trust very few people in this world and I trust even less that I meet in poker. Luckily for both me and Nicky, we came from places were trust is not a word that gets thrown around lightly. Almost a decade in Hollywood definitely hardened Nicky, while two stints on Wall Street taught me many survival skills that I need in a surreal planet such as Las Vegas.
But sometimes, you see you colleagues fall and they fall hard. The worst part? Some of them try to take you down with them. That's why a joke from Dennis Miller is what I remember the most in these instances...
You can't save everyone folks, just try not to be next to the when then blow up.At the same time, a friend of mine, Kid Dynamite who also worked in the trenches of Wall Street, recently wrote something that my old mentor on Wall Street used to say a similar message...
One of the mantras my supervisors taught me on the trading desk was not to make other people smarter - if you hear someone say something that you know to be incorrect, assuming they don't work for your firm, you let them go on with their misconceptions. Knowledge is money...Amen, KD.
I have less than two weeks to go before I return to the City of Angels. And I'm quietly counting the hours. Hopefully, I can avoid any more daggers tossed at me by bitter colleagues.